Have you ever been cruising along and all of a sudden, whammo! A speed bump? Sometimes they’re little, and sometimes they’re intense enough to mess up your car’s alignment. Other than dealing with my Kundalini awakening for the past several years, I haven’t had any major speed bumps blindside me since Little Man’s mental health tanked six and a half years ago and I took him out of school to educate him at home. Until the other day.
As the parent of a teen with a few invisible disabilities, there have been rough times and challenges I’ve anticipated, and things that caught me off guard. I wish we had better systems in place to support kids with invisible disabilities who often pass for neurotypical. The thing is, if your child has significant disabilities it’s pretty easy to find out about programs to help them. But Little Man’s issues in general are on the mild side. Yet they are very real.
Over the past year, there have been a number of smaller speed bumps for Little Man, but I’m proud to say he finally had his first job interview at a local grocery store and was offered a job.
Just going through with the interview was a very big deal for him. I was concerned that his appearance (needing a haircut and wearing basketball shorts and a hoodie) would be off-putting, but apparently not. Initially dressed wearing a pair of black slacks, his anxiety was so amped up that they became intolerable and he had to change into comfortable basketball shorts just before going to the interview.
The minute he was offered the job, sheer panic set in that would only increase and roll on for the next twenty-four hours. It was horrible. He could barely eat or sleep. As a parent, there’s nothing more helpless than not being able to help your kid. He slept for a few hours that first night but woke with panic still full on. I gave him Reiki, hugged him, tried to help him with breathing exercises, talked with him, and let him cocoon in his bed. Nothing helped. I also talked about taking him to the hospital where we could get some medicine that would calm him, but he didn’t want it. Probably the anxiety talking.
I was only a few years older than Little Man when I experienced panic attacks. Unfortunately, I was away at college and there was little to no conversation about mental health back then. And what conversation existed was always behind closed doors. Although medication was prescribed, it was a tricyclic antidepressant that did not alleviate my panic attacks and had very unpleasant side effects, so I stopped it after a few months. And no one suggested I might want to talk with a therapist (which I now see would have been incredibly helpful). No one educated me about anxiety or panic attacks, and it’s only been as an adult that I’m not only educated (and still learning) but have healed a significant amount of my own anxiety.
After around twenty-four hours Little Man’s system finally relaxed enough that he could sleep for several hours. Upon waking this morning the panic attack had subsided and has returned to a slightly elevated level of anxiety when he thinks about the job. Finally receiving a call back from his mental health provider, we talked about how to manage his anxiety a bit better and what to do for future panic attacks. Fortunately, he already had an appointment on the books with her which is only a few days away.
Therapy, breathing techniques, medication used very judiciously because it’s addictive, and possibly using EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy). Strategies. At his age and stage of life he’s not interested in the type of healing work I do. Maybe when he’s older.
When I hit speed bumps as big as these it’s both physically and mentally exhausting. Spiraling out for a few hours, my mind went to some very dark places regarding my son and his future. But after getting some sleep and having my other half return from being away for work, light is beginning to return. As a parent, I’ve had years of what I call an anxiety hangover. When my son’s immediate crisis passes and my system can finally let go and begin to process and unwind. The last time we went through a wallop this big, I spun out for days. This time it was hours. Progress.
Little Man has asked for help taking care of a few things he needs before his training begins in a little over a week, assuming he’ll be up to going, which is a really good sign. Baby steps.
Will he go through with the job? If he does, will he last? These are things I really don’t know, and I’m ok not knowing. Will this be the first and last job he’ll ever hold? Absolutely not. I consider it a “starter job”. Something to get him out of the house on a regular basis and interacting with people again. Hopefully making a new friend or two and learning some new skills. And I fully expect the first several days and weeks to be filled with anxiety and complaints because most new experiences for Little Man are scary to terrifying.
It will be his first “real” job. I’m open to all the good that will come from the next several weeks, even if I may not be able to reap it for a while.